Kerala continues to be on the edge. Sadly the ongoing battle between religious belief and faith and the rule of law and constitutional morality, has marred God’s own country. Thousands of devotees, both men and women, besieged the only route to the temple, blocked women from entering the Sabarimala temple in clear defiance of the Supreme Court order opening the doors of the temple to all girls and women. Tempers ran high with even media persons facing the brunt, being heckled and attacked for doing their job. Worse, the LDF government has failed miserably to restore semblance of order in the shrine hills. Instead, it has passed on the blame to the BJP, with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan accusing the “RSS driven upper caste religious fanatics” for the violence to create political polarisation and undermine the universal right of women of all ages to worship at Sabarimala. But this wouldn’t cut much ice with the BJP for at the end the party may believe that the protests could hand it its biggest opportunity yet to expand its base in Kerala, where it has minimal presence. While the shrine would be open till Monday for the rituals, the pilgrimage has turned into a battlefield –ugly, violent and political posing a grave threat to social peace. The Travancore Devaswom Board, managing the shrine, says it is ready for any compromise to bring peace to the hill shrine. Pray, will others heed?
It’s a switch over season. Nagging political crisis in Goa and impending Assembly elections in States have the BJP and Congress vying with each other to get prize catches. In Goa the ruling-BJP gave a jolt to Congress on Tuesday last by getting two of its MLAs into its fold, thereby ensuring that the rival was no longer the single largest party and also dashing its hopes to bid for forming the government. With Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanad Sopte exiting from the Assembly, both parties have equal number of 14 MLAs each in the 38-member House now. And, with three MLAs each of MGP and Goa Forward Party (GFP), and another three independents, the coalition has a comfortable majority. The BJP is boasting of another ‘three’ MLAs will cross over, so it could tide over the crisis following its popular Chief Minister Manohar Parikkar seriously ill. However, it’s not going to be a walkover as there are rumblings within the BJP. Former Chief Minister is peeved over the decision as it undermines the party cadre by inducting rivals (he had lost to Sopte in 2017 polls). The Congress too has hit out saying the defections were due to ‘arm-twisting and misuse of investigative agencies to instil fear among political opponents.’ Be that as it may, the BJP is definitely not giving up a State and its ultimate goal of “Congress-mukt Bharat.”
Rajasthan Quid Pro Quo
Rajasthan has given a platform to the Congress to pay back in the same coin. Twenty-four hours later i.e. on Wednesday last, Manvendra Singh BJP MLA and son of veteran leader Jaswant Singh joined the grand old party following his ‘disenchantment.’ Recall his father, one of BJP’s founding members was denied the Barmer constituency ticket in 2014, contested as an independent but lost to the BJP candidate. And, the bitterness lasts. Though Manvendra quit the party last month, his joining the Congress has got the BJP frowning as it could impact its Rajput votes– seven-odd% of the voters (about 50 of the State’s 200 seats and hold 26 as of now) which have traditionally opted for BJP. The seat allocation formula will obviously now need to be restructured for the December polls. While the Congress, with its traditional Jat voter is upbeat with the Rajput’s entry, the BJP says Manvendra has made a politically wrong choice and his desertion will have no effect on the Barmer-Jaisalmer belt. Who will be proved at the end, is worth a watch?
The pitch is raised for construction of the Ram temple from Maharashtrian soil. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in his annual Vijaya Dashmi address to cadres at Nagpur demanded the Modi government bring a law to build the temple in Ayodhya without any further delay as it was “necessary for self-esteem.” He also pressed the Supreme Court to make its decision soon as the temple ‘should have been built already’. It’s quite obvious that with the onset of election season, there is a nagging urgency now and opinions would change. Even its estranged partner, the Shiv Sena picks up the cue. On Thursday last, Chief Uddhav Thackeray too while addressing his cadres at Vijaya Dashmi said he would go to the holy city on November 25 and question Modi on the delay in the temple’s construction. Expectedly, he hit out and demanded the PM either ‘fulfil the long-pending vow or admit that it was just another fake promise.’ And vowed “we’ll build the temple, but won’t set a date”! It appears the push has come to a shove.
Don’t Misuse Funds
Environment protection it must be. States have been cautioned by none other than the Supreme Court against diverting funds from their Compensatory Afforestation and Management Planning Authority (CAMPA). The issue gains importance as the apex court realised that the Punjab government had taken away Rs 1.11 crore from this fund to pay its lawyers and legal expense! Obviously, this would be a no-go with the court, which was instrumental in having the fund being set up through a 2016 Act. In fact since 1995, it has taken the lead to prevent and monitor environmental degradation and felt that the fund would help rehabilitation of displaced persons due to issues such as depletion of forest, mining, etc. This March, the court was pleased to note that the CAMPA kitty had grown to Rs. 70,000-75,000 crore-odd and it was likely to go higher. However, with Punjab diverting the funds, which are meant to help governments and local communities to ensure better management of their forest resources, the court has directed the Amarinder Singh government to reimburse the amount within a fortnight. While it is certain the State would need to comply, others should realise it doesn’t pay to be too clever by half.
Prayagraj Not Allahabad
Blot out the historic city of ‘Allahabad’. Instead it will be ‘Prayagraj’, as BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh seeks to wipe clean Mughals from its history. The announcement was made following the Cabinet approved on Tuesday last. Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi justified it as only restoring an old name to the city and rectifying the mistake made by Emperor Akbar. Allahabad had got its name in 1575; Akbar called it Illahabas (the abode of God); before this the city was known as Prayag and some medieval texts, including Akbar’s court historian Abul Fazl, called it Piyag. Rig Veda, Mahabharata and Ramayana also mention Prayagraj, thereby giving it high religious value, which obviously Yogi would like to put sharp focus on. But the Opposition is not in tune with the name change as it ignores the history of Allahabad, ‘which played a major role during Independence struggle’. Obviously Yogi rubbishes the criticism saying: “those who are opposing this are not aware of their history, culture and traditions and we can’t have hopes from them.” Predictably, it’s only a matter of time that the State as per rules will get the Centre’s nod. — INFA