Office of Profit
The idiom ‘better safe than sorry’ makes good sense to the Punjab Government. Aware of growing frustration amongst his flock of MLAs, Congress Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has had his Cabinet approve amendments to the Punjab State Legislature (Prevention of Disqualification) Act 1952, which would allow the legislators to hold several new categories of office of profit. Remember, in the 117-member Assembly, the Congress has 78 MLAs, of which only 18 hold ministerial berths. Obviously, leading to heartburn amongst many, who would too have liked to be in a position to gain some extra financial benefit! With the amendments proposed there is now hope that at least 20 MLAs could be adjusted on key posts such as in State boards and corporations and other bodies considered as office of profit. But they will no longer fear disqualification as the CM has been given all powers to approve the ordinance, which shall be passed by the Assembly at a later stage. The draft changes have given additional exemptions to the categories of office of profit in the original Act and also added a new Section to provide for the definitions of “compensatory allowance”, “statutory body” and “non-statutory body”. Novel way indeed, to dodge the courts?
Odisha Caste Conflict
Odisha has its advantage of being a low profile State. Caste war doesn’t hit the headlines or media attention as it does say in UP and Bihar. On Tuesday last, over a 100-odd people belonging to the Scheduled Caste group, Pano, returned back after 10 days to their homes in Village Bodasa, Nayagarh district, destroyed by the dominant caste ‘khandayats’. Both the SP and DC gave them personal assurance, deployed additional police force in the area and arrested 13 persons allegedly involved in the attack. The group fled on June 16 following a 1000-odd strong mob attack in their quarter after one of their men said he would ‘directly’ offer prayers at the local Shiva temple. Unacceptable to khandayats, they first beat up the man and after his family lodged an FIR against the culprits, the community launched the attack, razing their homes to the ground. The Panos had to find shelter in the verandah of a Primary School, 3-km away, which was then designated as ‘relief camp’ for these refugees! Other than the nagging fear of another attack, the victims are worried they may not get the full compensation as per the SC and ST Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, i.e. Rs 4 lakh. While 25% has being disbursed, the rest will be given after court procedure and conviction. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will do well to have his administration speed up the case as justice delayed will be justice denied.
Mizoram’s No To Bill
The Centre needs to tread carefully in the North East. Congress-ruled Mizoram has said a big no to the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed in the Lok Sabha, close on the heels of rumblings in Assam and Manipur too. On Thursday last, the State Assembly passed a unanimous resolution opposing the Bill, which amends the Citizenship Act 1955, and proposes to make illegal migrants of six communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — eligible for Indian citizenship after six years of residence in the country. The resolution, moved by Home Minister Lalzirliana, warns New Delhi that if the Bill is enacted it would be harmful to States like it, where a large number of illegal Buddhist migrants from Bangladesh reside. Further, it said the Bill, seeking to make illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on basis of religion, was against the principles of secularism and “amounted to patronage of some religions”. Importantly, the State is the next after Assam, incidentally BJP-ruled, to oppose the Bill. Chief Minister Sonowal has assured his people that he would resign if the Centre doesn’t pay heed to the fears expressed. Former Congress Chief Minister has taken a delegation to President Kovind too opposing the Bill saying the “north east is not a dumping ground.” Will alarm bells be sounded off in other States?
TN Relief For Cong
Tamil Nadu has good news for the Congress. It’s old partner, the DMK has put the lid on rumours about promoting in the making ‘Third Front’ and instead affirmed it shall continue to ally with the grand old party for 2019 elections. On Wednesday last, its principal secretary Murugan put at rest speculation that it was planning to go along with the regional front as being floated by W Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. He said the party had no idea whatsoever of the front she is looking to form and though Working President Stalin had met her and Telengana and Andhra Chief Ministers on different occasions these were primarily to support their cause of federal structure and autonomy of States. That’s all. Obviously, the Congress should be much relieved with this announcement as its working in tandem with the DMK against the ruling AIADMK has yielded positive results. Recall the DMK had walked out of the UPA-II before 2014 Elections. Worse, the two had contested separately and lost 40 seats in the State and Puducherry. The idiom once bitten twice shy does make sense.
J&K Gau Rakshaks
The gua rakshaks (cattle saviours) have reached Jammu and Kashmir too. On Wednesday last, a mob set a truck carrying bovine animals on fire as it was reportedly doing so ‘without permission’ along the Jammu-Srinagar National highway in Ramban district. The truck was on its way to the Valley and was stopped by the mob on the highway. The driver managed to flee and the mob was able to free over two dozen cattle. Other than the tamasha, traffic on the highway remained suspended for nearly two hours and was restored only after hectic efforts by senior civil and police officials. While two cases have been registered against the smugglers and the mob, not a single person has so far been arrested. Guess Governor Vohra and his administration may have a different kind of ‘surgical strikes’ to take care of.
Migration across north and south India is on the reverse. On the one hand, North India is no longer being seen as the greener pasture by Tamilians and Malayalese and on the other Bengali, Hindi, Odia and Assamese speaking-people are heading towards Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This emerges from data of 2011 census on mother tongues and reveals that the trend in the past decades has changed. People from the two States are now heading within the south itself and Karnataka seems to be a favourite, followed by Andhra. In the previous census, between 2001 and 2011, the national capital, Delhi saw a fall in numbers of both Tamil and Malyali speakers and so did Maharashtra, which thanks to Mumbai was a favoured destination for south Indians– Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam speakers. On the other hand, UP followed by Haryana witnessed the highest growth in Malayali population primarily because of cosmopolitan Noida and Gugaon respectively. —INFA