Bihar government must hang its head in shame. The shocking tragedy of deaths of over 100 children from poor families in Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has exposed the criminal apathy Nitish government has for human lives and worse kids in the age group of 1-10 years. Distraught parents and relatives of the children being treated in the ill-equipped Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) rightly expressed their anger when Nitish and his deputy Sushil Modi finally chose to pay a visit on Tuesday last— two weeks after the AES outbreak. Predictably, the administration tried to dodge the issue and not accept its miserable failure in containing the encephalitis epidemic that Muzaffarpur faces every year. Heat wave or Hypoglycemia, when blood sugar levels drop, were to blame is how it tried to wriggle out of its responsibility. This notwithstanding that Nitish has been quoted saying “Every year before the onset of monsoon, this disease (AES) wreaks havoc. It is a matter of concern that every year children die because of it.” The big question then is what steps have been taken to address this concern? Nothing, for the recent deaths show it has failed miserably to follow basic guidelines on AES – raise awareness, tackle malnutrition and upgrade its primary health centres. So when the tragedy hits national headlines, which it has, the administration has the usual knee-jerk reaction— of sending medical supplies and doctors. Not to forget the ex-gratia payment which is offered to families of the deceased children – this time a royal sum of Rs 4 lakh each. Can this dispel the fact that life is cheap in Bihar?
Gujarat Bypoll Row
Gujarat is gearing for another exciting byelection to the Rajya Sabha. With every single seat critical for its relevance, the Gujarat Congress has knocked on Supreme Court’s door challenging Election Commission’s related notification. With two of the six vacancies to be filled in Upper House from Gujarat, following Amit Shah and Smriti Irani moving to Lok Sabha, the Congress has questioned the poll notification. While EC says there will be a separate poll for each vacancy as per the RPA, the Congress demands it be held together. Why? If held together (as was done in 2017) it will win one seat and the BJP the other in accordance with proportional representation in the 182-member Assembly (BJP has 100 MLAs and Congress plus others 75). But if held separately, which the Commission says is ‘consistent practice’ both will go to the BJP. The Congress smells a rat and accuses the EC of ‘adopting new method of conducting elections under government pressure.’ The apex court has asked EC to respond and matter is listed next week. Who is playing mischief will soon be known.
Water Crisis In TN
The water crisis in Tamil Nadu has caught the AIADMK government on the wrong foot. While Chief Minister K Palaniswami may claim the issue wasn’t as big as was being made out by the media, and rival DMK, the Madras High Court is not convinced. On Tuesday last, it pulled up the administration for not taking adequate steps to handle the crisis in capital Chennai, despite two failed monsoons. Hearing a PIL, the court impleaded suo moto Secretary, PWD to submit a detailed report on ‘number of reservoirs in the State, steps taken for de-silting, amount sanctioned and status of those works,’ notwithstanding the government reeling out actions taken so far to handle the crisis, including removal of encroachments on water bodies. It is putting up a brave front despite the fact that drinking water shortage has led to 100-odd hostels around Chennai stopping operations, IT firms asking employees to work from home and people rationing water! Undoubtedly, that confidence doesn’t hold water with the people or the experts!
Andhra Cross Over
Post-election season of moving on to greener pastures has engulfed Andhra Pradesh’s TDP now. On Thursday last, four of its members in the Rajya Sabha resigned and switched loyalties to the obvious choice— the BJP. The move has triggered a crisis alright for Chandrababu Naidu and worse the timing is unfortunate as the party chief is holidaying with his family in Europe. With four of the six MPs breaking away, it means the split would be recognised in Parliament given that it meets the legal requirement of anti-defection law, which mandates support of at least two-third members. So not only did they hand over their resignation to RS Chairman but passed a resolution to merge TDP’s legislature party with BJP! A hard hit for Naidu, but he’s putting up a brave front. ‘It’s nothing to be nervous about,’ is his message to party leaders/cadres as ‘a crisis is not new to the party.’ Forget the others, is he convinced?
WB Misery Over
West Bengal can heave a sigh of relief. The junior doctors called off their week-long strike on Monday last following an unexpected fruitful meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Didi did eventually relent and promised measures to ensure doctors’ safety: such incidents (assault on doctors by patient’s family at NRS hospital, which triggered the strike) won’t happen in future; state-wide emergency number and email id to report an assault to be started; action against police if they fail to act with regard to their security; to deploy additional 125 police personnel inside NRS hospital to boost security and set up grievance redressal cell in government hospitals. She also told the doctors that five persons involved in NRS incident had been arrested. All’s well that ends well, may be a relief, but the nagging question is why did it take Mamata a whole week to sit on the negotiating table? She could have spared thousands, if not lakhs, of patients across the country of their misery. If only she remembered the adage ‘a stitch in time saves nine’.
Karnataka Cong Awakening
Mahatma Gandhi’s quote “It is the quality of our work which will please God and not the quantity,” has finally takers in the Congress. At least in Karnataka. On Wednesday last, the AICC decided to dissolve its Karnataka PCC by retaining only its President and Working President, appointed last July. This should have been done before the Lok Sabha polls as suggested, but didn’t. The party, which was in power in the State from 2013-18 and is now a ruling coalition partner, won only a solitary seat this general election and is marred by nagging uncertainty of retaining its hold. Obviously, its jumbo PCC with 452 members, 21 Vice-Presidents, 65 General Secretaries and 170 Secretaries since at least two years did precious little and was inactive. The thrust on quantity rather than quality has done the damage like the adage too many cooks spoil the broth. The new avatar it is said will take shape in a month’s time. In the given circumstances of uncertainty looming large over the JD(S)-Congress government’s survival, hope it’s not too late. —INFA