Democracy may be in peril in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Rather, the Opposition Congress is unambiguous about it, as there are signs that the BJP-ruled States will not have a free and fair election. It has thus knocked on the doors of the Supreme Court spelling out its apprehension. In Madhya Pradesh, State in-charge Kamal Nath claimed there were ’60 lakh duplicate, repeat, multiple, illegal, invalid, false, etc, entries/voters in the electoral rolls.’ This after he had a survey conducted at his own cost and the Election Commission was denying them voters’ list in text mode, as mandated. Rajasthan in-charge Sachin Pilot too alleged there were nearly a crore such duplicate voters in his State. Additionally, the Congress demanded that direction be given to the EC to conduct tests on Voter Verifiable paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in “at least 10 per cent randomly selected polling stations in each Assembly constituency”. Remember, many an Opposition party blamed their poor results in past elections on the EVMs, alleging that these had been tampered with. Given the EC is the watchdog of free and fair polls, the apex court has issued notice to Nirvachan Sadan as well both the States Election Commission. The matter is listed for Friday next. Fingers would be crossed the Court remembers the idiom– a stitch in time saves nine!
Curbing Drug Abuse
Drug addiction in northern States has come into sharp focus. Chief Ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Delhi and administrator of Chandigarh have decided to fight narcotic drug abuse on a war footing and importantly together. On Monday last, while participating in a ‘regional conference on Drugs — Challenges & Strategies’ it was decided to set up a common central secretariat in Panchkula for data collection and information sharing. While CMs would meet every six months to monitor progress, officers would do so every three months and SPs would have day-to-day consultation. The group would also: tap UP and J&K to join in, ask Centre to have a national policy on drugs and provide funds, restrict drug plantations, prevent diversion to neighbouring States, crackdown on drug smuggling etc. All these efforts have one gaol: protect youth, children and Gen Next from the harm of drugs. How successful will this endeavour be, only time will tell?
Sikkim Kept In Dark?
Sikkim has created a flutter in the corridors of South Block. It’s Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has claimed that on the Doklam issue New Delhi “neither consulted us, nor the Army told us anything about the situation.” Worse, ‘our people are living in fear’ and it is only through the media that they got to know about the Doklam standoff between India and China”. On his part, he told journalists that both the State government and the people have shown ‘their love for the country and worked for the interest of India.’ But there was nagging fear of a war with China, especially in Kupup, the last inhabited village about 30 km from Doklam. Clearly, the message being sent out is neither ignore not take the State for granted. Will the Centre make amends or will it rebut the serious charge made against it? Whatever it decides, it shouldn’t look the other way.
UP Govt At Odds
Uttar Pradesh government finds itself in a piquant situation. A petition before the Supreme Court seeks grant of sanction to prosecute Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a hate speech case, dating back to 2007. This after the Allahabad High Court this February dismissed a plea seeking a CBI probe into the case, saying no discrepancy was found in the probe already conducted. Earlier, the BJP government refused the sanction on grounds the CD sent to the CFSL in October 2014 was “tampered” with. But a question being raised is: can the Chief Minister, who also holds the Home portfolio, be a “judge in his own case”! Notwithstanding the anomaly, the petitioner has good reason to persist as in 2008 a magistrate court in Gorakhpur had ordered initiation of a criminal case against Adityanath, then an MP, for reportedly delivering a hate speech, which led to riots in the district. And in a television programme he is reported to have admitted it. But the case has been languishing for long years. Should there be hope for justice at the end as the CJI-led bench has issued notice to the UP government and sought a response within two weeks. Or will it be yet another case of justice delayed, is justice denied.
Change In J&K
A change of guard in J&K may turn out to be a misadventure New Delhi could have avoided. Well this is perhaps a message the Valley gave on the eve of Satya Malik taking over as the troubled State’s new Governor, replacing NN Vohra, whose tenure lasted a decade, irrespective of the party in power at the Centre. Malik was sworn-in on Thursday last, but a day before violent incidents marred Id festivity in the Valley with three policemen and a BJP activist shot dead. Besides, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah was booed at and shown shoes at the Id congregation in Srinagar. Telling signs of a mood swing, as under Governor’s rule the Valley had seen a drop in stone-pelting incidents. Moreover, Vohra, a bureaucrat was respected as an administrator by both political parties and the people. On the other hand, Malik is a politician and would but obviously be associated with the BJP, which as is known made the PDP-led government unpopular. Malik has an onerous task before him to usher in the elusive normalcy and more importantly ensure that local elections as announced by Vohra take place. He would do well to bear in mind that J&K is no Bihar.
Goa Fails Miserably
Goa has literally failed miserably. It needs to do its homework right on the education system in the State. Shockingly, entire lot of 8,000 candidates, all graduates, who appeared for an examination conducted for 80 posts advertised by the Directorate of Accounts in October, failed to pass the test. None could secure a minimum of 50 marks of the total 100 to qualify the exams held on 7 January. The five-hour examination included a 100 marks paper on General Knowledge, English and accounts-related questions and those who would have cleared it would have had to go through the next step of interview before final selection. While the directorate would contemplate re-exam, what is adding to the mystery of a zero performance is that the results have been declared after an eight-month gap. Opposition parties smell a rat. Apparently, government recruitment in the State has perpetually been on hold, says the Congress and accuses the ruling BJP of “playing with the future of educated unemployed youth.” But it is AAP which hits the nail on the head. Failing of all candidates, i said is “either a cruel joke” or a sad commentary on the “collapse” of the State’s education system. —INFA