Karnataka may well be the stepping stone to blur the sharp saffron colouring of India. The inauguration of the JD(S)-Congress government in the southern State on Wednesday last, has indeed given the hopefuls in the Opposition that ‘Modi Vs Rest’ is doable in 2019. In fact, the oath-taking ceremony of Chief Minister Kumaraswamy and his Deputy, Congress’ G Parmeshwara was not really the mega event. Instead, it was the coming together of satraps of almost all non-BJP parties — Congress, TMC, SP, CPM, BSP, RJD, TDP, RLD, NCP etc, literally under one platform to not anoint the king but rather rejoice the defeat of the BJP. The absence of BJD and TRS has raised some eyebrows, but this as pictures showed got overlooked with the fact that Mamata Banerjee shared the dias with Sitaram Yechury and Pinarayi Vijayan or that Sonia Gandhi was seen warmly engaging with Mayawati and Tejashwi Yadav. However, the bonhomie was perhaps blemished by noticeable coolness between Mamata and the Gandhi’s, as let’s not forget that Didi has been trying to keep them out (Congress) of a proposed ‘federal front.’ But given the desire that most satraps have i.e. to stop the BJP bandwagon rolling across further, the Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) may just kick off. There is time and all eyes would be on how the anti-BJP forces make the best of it. As is said half begun is well done.
TN Fatal Protest
People’s anger against crass government apathy can be lethal, as Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu has sadly reaffirmed. On Tuesday last, 10 persons were killed and 65-odd injured, in police firing at a massive crowd of protestors in front of the collectorate, demanding closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper plant. Not just the trigger-happy cops, but the AIADMK government too must share the shame. This, as the agitation against the plant, which is ‘polluting environment and causing ailments in neighbourhood’, ran into its 100th day (since February 12), with the administration simply sitting pretty, despite the TN Pollution Control Board not renewing its licence. Obviously, patience ran out. Despite prohibitory orders, the crowd gathered, police got outnumbered, fled, the mob went on a rampage setting ablaze vehicles and attacking the few policemen, who then retaliated by opening fire. As usual the Government has offered compensation to kin of those killed, and the injured and ordered an inquiry. Human lives would have been saved if only it acted as the adage ‘A stitch in time saves nine.’
UP Big Test
It is time for another major test for BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh. On Monday Kairana Lok Sabha constituency shall go to the polls. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with Deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya, recovering from Gorakhpur and Phulpur shocking defeat, can ill afford another beating. But the going may be tough. Having tasted victory through a pre-poll alliance, the Opposition is doing a repeat. The Samajwadi Party has this time lent support to the RLD candidate and it chief, Akhilesh Yadav is going to campaign for her. This has the BJP obviously worried. For why else would Yogi include a minimum of five State ministers in his campaign team for a single bye-election? The Congress too like the SP and RLD see this as signs of “nervousness”. Presumably so, as the BJP’s recent shenanigans in Karnataka and its chief minister having to bow out would certainly be part of the Opposition’s canvassing. Not only is a victory here critical for Yogi, but for the BJP too. All eyes would be on the people’s verdict, not just in Lucknow but New Delhi as well.
All is not ‘well’ in God’s Own Country. The deadly Nipah virus has so far taken 12 lives, even as the Union Health Ministry says it has been able to contain the “highly localised infection”. The virus is spread by fruit bats and leads to high fever, headache and coma in extreme cases. Unfortunately there is no vaccine against Nipah, which is transmitted between humans through body fluids. Worse, it has a mortality rate of 70 per cent. The latest case of Moosa, in Kozhikode district, revealed that the bats living in his well were the source of the outbreak. While the well has been sealed among others, two of his sons, succumbed to the virus after they had cleaned the well. Other members of the family are in hospital. Chief Minister Vijayan has tried to instil confidence among the people saying they are monitoring the outbreak and taking steps to prevent its further spread. Action and not mere words should speak.
Telangana Quota Row
It’s reservation versus reservation in Telangana. The Adivasi (Girijana) Employees Welfare and Cultural Association moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday last, urging that Banjaras (nomadic tribe) be removed from the State’s Scheduled Tribes list. Their argument: the Banjaras were not originally STs, but migrated from States to Telangana and their ‘mass influx’ is short changing other tribes of benefits. However, the SC and ST Orders (Amendment) Act, 1976 recognises Banjaras (Lambadas and Sugalis) after a chequered history. Only nine tribes were treated as ST in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh under the Constitution (ST) Order, 1950 and not Lambadas or Sugalis. They made a demand in 1956, which Centre didn’t accept then, but did so in 1976. This Act is ‘unconstitutional’ insist Adivasis, and fear that with the KCR government regularising land records in villages and filling up government jobs now, the Lambadas would benefit the most. The Lambadas counter-argue they have legitimate rights as they constitute over 70% of STs in the State. The big question is how soon can the issue be resolved? Sooner the better, as northern part of the State witnessed violent protests by both groups December last.
NE Not One Entity
One-size fits all approach, is not for the North East. That is a clear message BJP Chief Ministers in six States of the region want New Delhi to comprehend. At a two-day conclave on planning policies for farm resurgence in the N-E in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu set the ball rolling by taking umbrage to the fact that mainland was viewing all the NE States as a single entity. “We are quite distinct and different from each other. Each State has its own potential and challenges. Even within a State like ours, each region, district, and community has its own potential and challenges,” he insisted. Plus, this realisation was critical, as investments and policy support would need to be different in each State and must be understood. Implement these on need-based and in real terms. In simple words, the message to the Centre is stop painting the North East with one brush stroke! —INFA