Nagging political uncertainty looms over Goa. With the BJP-led coalition burning the midnight oil to find a replacement for ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Opposition Congress doesn’t want to be caught napping again. In fact, it is busy preparing ground to go for the kill. On Tuesday last, its MLAs approached Governor Mridula Sinha and staked claim to form the government, giving reason to believe that it won’t be fooled twice. It urged her to summon a one-day session and direct the ruling coalition to prove its majority, as it has withered away. While it’s uncertain if it has managed to get additional MLAs to its side in the State, known for its defection, the Congress remains the single largest party with 16 MLAs and intends to play the card well this time. Recall, in 2017, it missed the boat because of its own folly as the BJP had just 14 MLAs, but managed to garner support of MLAs of Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, the NCP, and three independents in the 40-member Assembly and form government. With Parrikar flown to AIIMS for treatment and 3 other MLAs not well, the Congress sees its chance. It has fore warned the Governor neither to dissolve the Assembly under New Delhi’s pressure, nor impose President’s rule, nor keep the House in suspended animation. Will she oblige, or will the resourceful BJP outsmart the Congress again, is the big question.
State Govts Step In
With an adamant Centre refusing to cut down rising fuel prices, State governments have decided to step in and ease people’s burden. Karnataka is the latest in the list to reduce prices of both petrol and diesel by Rs 2. The decision was taken on Monday last, following Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan cutting down State tax last week. While Maharashtra has the highest cost rate of petrol at Rs 89.01 per litre and diesel at Rs 78.07, across the country it is around Rs 81.63 and Rs 73.54 respectively. The Opposition, including the TDP and TMC, have rightly slammed the Centre for the staggering price rise (petrol by Rs 4.20 per litre and by Rs 4.53 for diesel) calling it crass ‘mismanagement.’ Worse, while Central cess has been raised nine times, the States haven’t got any percentage of it and have had to take on additional burden. Make note that since the BJP-led NDA came to power in May 2014, petrol prices have seen an 10% increase-from Rs 73.6 on 1 June, 2014 to Rs 80.73 on 10 September, 2018 and diesel prices 26% from Rs 57.84 to Rs 72.83. Sadly, ache din as promised by Modi and team remain an illusion.
Cong J&K Gamble
The Congress chooses to have the cake and eat it too. So seems the case, as the grand old party declares it will contest the civic polls in Jammu & Kashmir but at the same time can have a rethink! On Wednesday last, State chief Mir said the party will contest polls with ‘full energy and might’ as it cannot allow communal forces, the BJP, to have a cake walk and occupy ‘democratic units at the grassroots’. But there is a rider: it will monitor the situation and ‘review its decision anytime’. More specifically, the Congress will keep an eye on the security of candidates as so far nothing seems to have changed on the ground, despite drawing both the Governor and Election Commission’s attention to it. Many would see Congress’ move not just to block the BJP/RSS getting an open field but more likely keeping the door open to walk out in case it realises the tide is going against it. Remember, both the NC and the PDP are boycotting the municipal elections as they insist the Centre must clear its stand on Article 35A. However, their absence did not deter the State administration which went ahead and announced the poll schedule. The big question is will the gamble pay off in the Valley?
A loud sigh of relief would be heard in Assam. The Supreme Court has given the 40-odd lakh people left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) a second chance. On Wednesday last, the apex court ordered resumption of filing of claims and objections from 25 September, which shall remain open for next 60 days. At the same time, it has asked the Centre about its stand on the applicability and non-applicability of certain documents for the inclusion of the names left out. At its end, it has agreed to keep 10 of the 15 documents provided in the claim form to be proved by those excluded to prove legacy. However, it has reservation of sharing the copy of the NRC coordinator’s report on the modalities for receiving the claims as it felt it must ‘keep a balance.’ Given the magnitude of the issue of ‘illegal migrants’ that Assam reeks of and the lakhs of people who may be bundled out, the big question is whether two months is enough time for them to file their claims. All eyes would be on the next hearing in October.
Southern Horrific Attacks
The shocking attacks on couples of inter-caste marriages in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana should send a horrific chill down modern India. In fact, these should trigger a protest like we have seen against khap panchayats in the north in the recent past. More importantly, it should be a wake-up call for State administrations and even the Centre as the attacks were in Capital Hyderabad and not just a far flung village. Mindsets need to be changed through education and campaign for if that had been the case then Pranay, a dalit would not have been killed by goons hired by the father’s girl, an upper caste or Balla Sandeep, an SC and his wife Madhavi an OBC would not have been attacked by the girl’s father in the other case. Clearly these are ‘caste hatred’ killings and attacks by the Upper caste and cannot be termed and accepted as ‘honour killings’, warn activists. Organisations of SC, ST, BC and human rights need to make concerted efforts to fight against caste prejudice and not just condemn the incidents, when these take place. The cry should be loud to shake the system.
Cow Nation’s Mother
Gau rakshaks (cow vigilantes) will be thrilled. The Uttarakhand Assembly has recommended the cow should now be declared rashtra mata (nation’s mother) and will be sending a single line resolution to New Delhi to mull over. Proposing the resolution on Wednesday last, Animal Husbandry minister Arya said the previous BJP government had banned cow slaughter in the State by the Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Act and now the country should ban cow killing. Her justification being the cow is treated as ‘incarnation of motherhood’, its milk is scientifically considered the best for newborns after mother’s milk; is the only animal which not only inhales but exhales oxygen; its urine has medicinal qualities. Additionally, the Assembly is upbeat over reduction in number of abandoned cows within a decade, as 75%-odd are male and the Ministry has started production of sex sorted semen, to help reduce the population of stray bovines.—INFA