BJP vs Rest
State satraps are vying with each other to lead battle 2019. Most of them are Delhi-bound, to ensure they are the first to kick off the formation of a united front against the formidable BJP and its Modi-Amit Shah team. The first to come was West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee with an agenda not just to tap leaders of all parties but also BJP dissidents such as Arun Shourie, Yashwant Sinha and Shatrughan Sinha. On Wednesday last, she did succeed and held meetings with NCP, SP, RJD, TDP, TRS, DMK and Shiv Sena. Her timing was perfect-during the Parliament session and in its premises. What came across as a surprise that Congress President Rahul Gandhi was not on the list, instead it was Sonia Gandhi. Could one read a message that she was aiming for the regional parties to in the frontline? Be that as it may, the idea seems to have given a similar one to the others. Both Andhra Chief Minister and TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana CM and TRS Chief have decided to land in Delhi too next week. While the two would have their agenda of getting support from all others for their cause, it is not being ruled out that they too would get involved in the federal front. In the maddening rush they must keep in mind that too many cooks may spoil the broth.
UP’s Name Game
Will Shakespeare’s “What’s in a name” be understood in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh? No, rather it will trigger another unnecessary controversy in the Hindi heartland. On Wednesday last, the BJP government issued an order directing all departments and HC benches in Allahabad, Lucknow to add ‘Ramji’ to Dr Ambekar’s name in all documents and records. So instead of ‘Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar’ it will now be ‘Dr Bhimrao Ramji Aambedkar’. The justification being it is as “signed by him on the pages of the Constitution (8th Schedule),” and further ‘Ramji’ was his father’s name, which is normally used as a middle name for sons in Maharashtra. Besides, while the English spelling of Ambedkar shall remain, in Hindi it will be ‘Aambedkar’ as pronounced. The move is bound to raise a stink. It goes without saying that BSP and SP will see through the game. Playing politics with the Dalit icon and trying to woo the Dalit vote bank, will not be easy for the hindutva party. Rather, it may have just spelt out another reason for the opponents to join hands!
Karnataka Poll Storm
The election bugle has been sounded for Karnataka. The one-day poll is to take place on May 12 and the results will pour in on May 15. Understandably, the two big contenders to the throne, the Congress and the BJP have upped the ante. However, at the very beginning the process has got off on a wrong note. None other than the Nirvachan Sadan has got embroiled in a controversy, wherein its impartiality is under question. On Tuesday last, it wasn’t the first to announce the poll schedule. A BJP IT member tweeted the dates before! And so did a local Congress leader. Though they were right on the polling date they went wrong on the counting, and said they got information from a TV news channel. However, it doesn’t end the matter. In fact, it has rightly given the Opposition the right to ask whether the Election Commission had ‘consulted’ the BJP before making the announcement. Caught on the wrong foot, the EC has started an investigation. Will it be fair and without fear?
Communal Fire In Bihar, WB
Communal fire continues to rage in two States– Bihar and West Bengal. The Ram Navami festival has kept the police on their toes this past week. Seven districts, including Munger, Bhagalpur, Siwan in Nitish Kumar’s Bihar were hit by communal tension as clashes broke out between two groups either over unauthorised religious processions or idol immersion procession or controversial song being played out along with inflammatory slogans etc. Over 100 people, including cops were injured, several shops, vehicles set on fire. Paramilitary forces, RAF were deployed and prohibitory orders imposed. Likewise, in Mamata’s Bengal, Raniganj continues to simmer after three persons were killed and several injured in clashes following a BJP-organised procession trying to enter a Muslim-dominated locality. While the BJP has been cautioned by ally JD(U) in Bihar, it has had the Centre seek a report from Bengal government. Predictably, this double standard should stoke another fire.
States & Honour Killings
Three cheers to the Supreme Court. The apex court has issued guidelines which if followed by States should give hope of protection to couples from ‘honour killings’. On Tuesday last, a three-member bench was firm the “right of a person to get married with one’s choice cannot be smothered by family or community members on basis of extra-constitutional perception of class honour”. Clearly, the infamous Khap panchayats should come under the scanner. For the court noted that consent of family or community was not necessary for an adult to get married with a person of his choice and ‘this right of enjoyment of liberty deserved to be continually and zealously guarded’. It has thus asked local governments and police authorities to: identify districts and villages that witnessed honour killings; khap panchayats must not convene meetings on the issue; in case of threat to life to a couple invoke Sec 144 and arrest participants, file FIR against them. Importantly, the court has asked State authorities to give logistic support to couples to get their marriage solemnised and even put them in safe houses and provide security. While the order should bring a smile among many young couples, the big question is will State authorities and police gain their confidence?
Kerala’s ‘Casteless Path’
Politicians and political parties could learn a lesson or two from Kerala’s children. Young students in God’s own country have shunned the caste and religion card, which our polity shamelessly plays around with. Yes, over 1.23 lakh students from Class I to X chose not to disclose their caste or religion by leaving the column blank during admission to some 9000-odd government and aided schools across the State. 2017-18 has turned out to be a record year as these students constitute two per cent of all school kids in the State. While many would be upbeat by this “casteless path” undertaken, some wonder whether it actually reflects a progressive mindset. This, because schools can no longer compel students to mention their caste or religion as the court has ordered it is no longer mandatory. Be as it may, it is important that basic grounding in education must be secured through skill and not through any form of reservation. Well begun is half done!—INFA