Three States In Bag
Three States in its bag should stimulate a distraught Congress. It is upbeat no doubt, but it needs to tread cautiously. Keeping poll promises is definitely an agenda, with all three Chief Ministers Kamal Nath (MP), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Bhupesh Baghel (Chhattisgarh) seen in a hurry waiving off loans of the farmers, notwithstanding the burden on their exchequer. It is said there is a roadmap for concerned officials to carry out orders. While time will only tell how efficient the system pans out, the Congress High Command will need to keep a watchful eye on its own decision, of anointing CMs. It’s no secret that the Congressman’s enemy is within and not the outside opposition. For example, there are lingering doubts already over the jugalbandi in Rajasthan –of Gehlot-Sachin Pilot (Deputy CM). Murmurs of the latter wanting the top job casts doubts on its success for ticket distribution by him as PCC chief is said to have been done with the purpose of cutting Gehlot’s influence! All 26 independents who won were Congress rebels and the protests clamouring for his anointment are pointers. Even in Chhattisgarh, Baghel had stiff competition from three others– Sahu, Singh Deo and Mahant-and decisions were made and unmade in a short span. In MP too attempts were made by claimant Jyotiraditya Scindia but he lost the coveted post to senior Nath. Interestingly, the party appears to be well-versed with the ailment, as none other than Rahul Gandhi in a tweet quoted American internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffman: “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” The message must sink in as it is better to be safe than sorry!
Delhi HC Raises Hope
The Delhi High Court raises hope. While millions of Sikhs in the country and abroad would be pleased with its verdict of at least sentencing Congress Sajjan Kumar (who has since resigned from the party) to life in the anti-Sikh riots case, the court’s observation in the 207-page judgement puts sharp focus on other instances of mass killings, where perpetrators’ sadly continue to roam free. It noted: the 1984 riots, in which 2,733 Sikhs were murdered in Delhi alone and 3,350-odd across the country, ‘was neither the first instance of a mass crime nor tragically the last’ … There has been “a familiar pattern of mass killings in Mumbai in 1993, in Gujarat in 2002, in Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008, in Muzaffarnagar in UP in 2013.” Worse, “targeting of minorities was spearheaded by dominant political actors in connivance with law enforcement agencies.” Clearly, it’s unwise for the BJP to be condescending towards rival Congress after this reading as the riots quoted, should make the Sangh Parivar and the Hindu brigade squirm and fearful. More so as the court acknowledges “bringing such criminals to justice was a serious challenge to the legal system.” Will the loophole be plugged? Remember, justice delayed is justice denied.
Telangana Eyes New Delhi
Telangana eyes New Delhi. With his gamble of advancing the Assembly elections handsomely paying off, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao now seeks to carve out a bigger role and take the lead in formation of a “non-BJP, non-Congress front” ahead of 2019 big battle. His daughter and MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha has left no room for ambiguity as of now and kind of spelt out his ambition of setting up a “neutral front”. More so, as KCR and team are firm the BJP-led NDA record has been miserable and joining the Congress-led UPA is a no-go. Pitching for regional satraps to get together, Kavita says they cannot be “Team B’ any party. The timing is obviously ripe, given that the ‘mahagathbandhan’ remains elusive. The big two in UP, the BSP and SP are not on board and the with the DMK proposing candidature of Rahul Gandhi as PM, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee appears to be peeved. The big question is whether KCR will be able to pull-off this ‘neutral’ alliance and have the regional parties call the shots in national politics?
Haryana brings a whiff of fresh air in the BJP camp. Smarting from the loss of three States, the party got a breather by bagging all mayoral posts in all five towns – Rohtak, Panipat, Yamunanagar, Hisar and Karnal in the State. Interestingly, the Congress and INLD-BSP gave Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar a run for his money as they backed an independent candidate in his home town of Karnal, who incidentally lost with minimum number of votes (9000-odd) in comparison to the others. The BJP candidates also defeated Congress aspirants in their former CM’s home towns — Rohtak and Hisar, given an additional boost. The victory gives Khattar confidence that not only has the aam janata given approval to his government’s policies but that Opposition unity wouldn’t make a dent in October next State election. Former Congress CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, however, chose not to give weightage to these polls but raised the oft-heard bogey of faulty EVMs! Time to look within and strategise rather than find fault outside, would be an advice worth contemplating.
J & K Guard Change
New Delhi takes over the reins of Jammu and Kashmir. On Wednesday last, President’s rule was imposed in the State after it completed the statutory six months under Governor’s rule, following the collapse of the PDP-BJP government in June. Whether it will bring ‘achche din’ or the much-needed elusive normalcy, as against an elected government is anybody’s guess. But it does make New Delhi’s task tougher this time round given that Governor Satya Pal Malik chose not to give people’s elected representatives another chance (PDP-NC-Congress claim to form government). It would be worthwhile to see whether development eventually takes place, as 48 newly-elected sarpanches of panchayats calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday coincided with the takeover. Expectedly, there was talk of meeting people’s aspirations, development at grass-root level etc and peace. Modi was affirmative. However, he must remember the adage: the taste in the pudding lies in its eating.
Mizo Dry Xmas, New Year
Mizos will ring in the New Year with cheer and not cheers! The newly-elected Mizo National Front (MNF) government has decided to re-impose total prohibition in the Christian majority State. Indeed, Chief Minister Zoramthanga has kept his main poll promise by having his Cabinet to approve cancellation of liquor licences of nine government units (six police battalions and three PSUs) with “immediate effect” and for private vendors a carpet ban from “December 21 to January 14”, till legislation is in place. Total prohibition was first imposed in Mizoram in 1997, but the previous Congress regime had the Mizoram Liquor (Total Prohibition) Act, 1995 replaced with the Mizoram Liquor (Prohibition and Control) Act, 2014, against the wishes of not only the NGOs but the ‘powerful’ Church. In this period (2015-18), the State is learnt to have earned Rs 200 crore revenue from liquor sales and the ban will cost Rs 70 crore-odd every year. Guess for Zoramthanga keeping his word is of utmost importance and must be appreciated. Hope there are no frowns even as it will turn out to be a dry Xmas and New Year! – INFA